International Day of Older Persons: Requests for support addressed to the Ombudsman’s Senior Citizen’s Line went up 12%

Established by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 14, 1990, today we celebrate the International Day of Older Persons. Given its particular vulnerability in the current pandemic context, it is recalled that the promotion and protection of the rights of the senior citizens is one of the priorities of this State body, currently headed by the Ombudsperson Maria Lúcia Amaral.

In addition to other means of contact, the services that support the Ombudsman make available a personalized phone line specifically dedicated to this increasingly larger group in our society.

By the end of September 2020, 2348 calls had been received on the Ombudsman’s Elderly ou Senior Citizen’s Line, which corresponds to an increase of 12% (+283 calls) in relation to the same period in 2019. Also by way of comparison, between the same periods of 2018 and 2019 there was an increase of 7.5%.

The increase in the number of calls occurred mainly in March, April and May, coinciding with the state of emergency initially decreed in the context of the Covid-19 disease.

Elderly Line were related to social responses (access to day-care centers, home support, residential/home structures) and other support services, justifying a total of 473 calls. This was followed by issues related to health (276 calls), ill-treatment/negligence directed at older people (229 calls), difficulties with public services (223 calls), pensions (203 calls) and social benefits (193 calls).

It should be noted that during the first nine months of 2020, there was a very considerable increase in calls motivated by difficulties in contacting public services (+125%) and on how to receive pensions (+100%) after the changes introduced following the pandemic.

It should also be noted that since March 16, when the government decreed the first restrictions in the context of pandemic control, 394 calls were received (about 17% of the total received during this period) directly related to Covid-19 and, in particular, to the constraints in the lives of older citizens.

These calls referred, for example, to the system of justifying absences to care for dependent elderly people; the new ways of receiving pensions; difficulties in accessing health services; the conditions of access to social benefits and support services; difficulties in contacting various public services or, even, the limitations on family members’ contacts with institutionalised elderly people and, subsequently, the conditions under which visits were re-established.

The Elderly Citizen’s Line – 800 20 35 31 – is a free telephone line especially dedicated to the problems of the older population, providing information on the rights and support that older people receive, namely in areas such as health, social security, housing, equipment and services.

The Ombudsman’s employees provide personalised attention and, with informality and speed, elucidate, and can also refer situations to the competent authorities (for example, the Social Security Institute) and contact the relevant institutions (such as health establishments). To learn more about the Elderly Citizen’s Line click here.